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My tech predictions for 2014

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 6:00AM Friday December 27, 2013
under Newsworthy

It's just a few days until the clock strikes 2014, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy, and healthy new year. And, of course, a year filled with killer deals. (I'll be on hand to help make that happen.)

As you may recall, I recently named my favorite tech of 2013. But no more looking back; it's time to set our sights on the year ahead, which promises to be just as exciting, crazy, and unpredictable as the year we just finished.

Of course, unpredictability won't stop me from making predictions. And I've got my Android-powered crystal ball (what, you think I'd trust Windows with something as important as the future?) right here, so let's take a look at the tech trends that will shape 2014.

1. Smartwatches Everywhere
Though industry analysts predicted 2013 would be the year of the smartwatch, it turned out to be the year of dumbwatches. No manufacturer got it right, though plenty of them tried.

And they'll keep trying until one company gets it right, meaning low price, super-long battery life, and simple, useful features. I'm confident this will happen, though I'm not sure it'll be Apple or Google leading the charge. More likely we'll see a Pebble competitor figure out the right formula, and that will usher in the era of the smartwatch.

2. Savvy Scanners
In 2013, Neat and Evernote introduced cloud-savvy scanners. (The former was among my favorite products of the year, and with good reason.)

In 2014, every scanner (including those built into multifunction printers) will be smart enough to send scans directly to cloud services, no PC required. As it should be. The whole idea of tethering any device to a computer is seriously out of date. Proof positive: Android and iOS smartphones no longer sync to PCs, but rather to the cloud. Peripherals will start to do likewise.

3. Big iPhones
Apple will finally give the people what they want (and have wanted ever since 2012), namely an iPhone with a 5- or even 6-inch screen.

I suspect this will happen in June, not September. Expect the rumor mill to start cranking into overdrive as early as February.

4. Goodbye, Phone Contracts!
In 2014, the dreaded two-year cell phone contract will start to disappear--and good riddance, am I right? Smaller carriers like Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, and Straight Talk will force the bigger carriers to give up subsidized smartphones in favor of no-contract, pay-as-you-go plans.

This will happen. I feel it in my bones. Smartphone owners have been paying too much for too long, and now that significantly cheaper alternatives are available, big, big changes are afoot for the cellular industry.

5. Goodbye, Laptops!
Well, maybe not goodbye, but a lot fewer hellos. Next year, consumers fed up with Windows will start to choose tablets in place of laptops.

Consider: A tablet is thinner and lighter than any laptop. It lasts longer on a battery charge. It boots and shuts down instantly. It runs most "important" software (e-mail, Evernote, Facebook, etc.) and requires no anti-virus software.

Best of all, tablets don't have Blue Screens of Death. They don't get slower over time. They don't have unnecessarily complex interfaces. And people love them! When was the last time you heard someone say "I hate my tablet"? (Substitute "laptop" and you hear that statement a lot.)

As a result, we'll see more hybrid models with removable keyboards. And hopefully more apps that cater to laptop expatriates.

Okay, those are my predictions--now let's hear yours! What major tech trends do you envision for 2014?

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.